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tv   Charlie Rose  WHUT  December 15, 2009 9:00am-10:00am EST

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. we begin this evening with president obama. he met with some bankers today to talk about the economy. he was interviewed last night on "60 minutes" by steve kroft. >> my main message in today's meeting was very simple, that america's banks received extraoinary assistance from american taxpayers to rebuild their industry and now that they're back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy. that starts with finding ways to help credit-worthy small and medium-sized businesses get the loans that they need to open their doors grow their operations, create new jobs. i do not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on wall street. the only ones that are going to be paying out these fat bonuses are the ones that have now paid
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back that tarp money... >> do you think that's why they paid it back so quickly? >> i think in some cases that was a motivation which i think tells me that the people on wall street don't get it. >> rose: also, harold evans, the former editor of "the sunday times" and the "times" of london talks about a life in journalism. >> the serious reason i wrote in this book was to put on record what my colleagues in the newspaper industry achieved and what a newspaper can achieve when it really tries to find out the hidden truth. not the hidden amount which we're talking about in tehran but the hidden truth. and the hidden truth takes professional skill, courage, resources. and i have people around me who were quite brilliant. so i was lucky to be riding this this racehorse which wanted to get know the finishing post of unravel manager mysteries. >> rose: we continue with a look at the movie "the private lives
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of pippa lee" with its writer and director rebecca miller and its star robin wright. >> it's the mother and daughter and how the last generation of mother andaughter affect this is generation of mother and daughter. it's about how we swing in round abouts and, you know, affect... the generations are talking to each other and affecting each other. >> i think i finally just went "get over being scared." it's so tired. it's really tired, being fearful and afraid of failin and, god, if i made that choice as that this character in this take what if it looks bad. just do it. just fail, then. because there might be something on the other side of failure. so that coupled with getting this role, you know what i mean? i just felt like there was the epiphany and it was a gift. that they coincided. >> rose: harry evans, rebecca miller and robin wright coming up.
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if you've had a coke in the last 20 years, ( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of our nation's... most promising students. ♪ ( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic ) captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: sir harold evans is
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here. he is a former editor of "the sunday times" and the "times" of london. he's also a former president and publisher of random house and in these roles he has witnessed firsthand the evolution of 20th century journalism. he new book takes a look back at his life and career. it is called "my paper chase." i'm pleased to have harry evans back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: why does one decide to write a memoir and when does one decide? >> well, you have to write at a certain age and since i'm reaching quite an advanced age, this is the last chance i've got. one of the reviewers in england said "harry evans is 81 going on 18." >> rose: (laughs) >> i rather liked that. >> i do, too. >> my children are always asking me impossible questions like "what did you do in the water?" i said i did nothing in the... well, i did a few other things. so you have to... basically charlie, the serious reason i wrote this book was to put on
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record what my colleagues in the newspaper industry achieved. and what a newspaper can achieve when it really tries to find out the hidden truth. not the hidden amount, which we're talking about in tehran. but the hidden truth. and the hidden truth takes professional skill, courage, resources, and i had people around me who were quite brilliant. so i was lucky to be riding this racehorse which wants to get to the finishing post of unraveling many mysteries. and i think today, charlie, you know, this is a thought that occurs to me time and time again. we hear many predictions of the death of newspapers. we have problems. and the public ought to realize something which i don't think they do properly realize, because they're sort of gorged on the internet, wonderful television programs. newspaper reporting, which does most of the regional reporting
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still around the world, if we didn't have newspapers, what would life be like? now, the question you may say "who can answer that?" i can. you can. everybody can. you know why? we're living a life now with the financial meltdown and unemployment which was manifest... the symptoms of which were manifest long before the actual disaster. but no newspaper reported it. so it was the absence of newspaper reporting that got us to this situation. because if there'd been an alarm whistle blown earlier, remedial steps would have been taken. the same with the iraq invasion. everybody thought weapons of mass destruction. i thought. that i thought, we must go and do with this. it's been... if there'd been proper reporng, we wouldn't have done it. so we're living in a world where we've had two dramatic instances and we've had a third. you have to stop me before i kill again. >> rose: (laughs) you're doing just fine.
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>> 9/11. okay? 9/11. that was treated as an amazing disaster coming from nowhere. nonsense. the rt rudman commission... >> rose: gary hart and warren rudman. >> two senators spent two or more years and lots of dollars going around the world and reported in 2001, january 2001 that americans will die in large numbers on american soil unless we take account of what's happening with radical islam. and what happened to that? almost the entire press ignored it. now, imagine if it had been taken up properly by the press. in other words, if there had been proper newspaper reporting. gary hart even said in the report, what are we going to do if there's some terrible disaster affecting a high-rise building? the major newspapers basically
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ignored the report. so there's three instances. and i'll give you another one! katrina. again, if we have a vigilant press, if we have a vigilant or live press asking questions and demanding answers and not simply reporting the speeches and the statements and the propaganda and the opinion, all of which is essential to a democracy, but also finding out, exploring, bringing to light the hidden facts. >> rose: so your point is that newspapers that are in... existing today are not doing their job? >> well, i'm saying... i'm giving you instances where they didn't. and i fear that though we have brilliant instances... the "new york times" has just recently done an account of the mexican drug war which is brave and brilliant and marvelous. and the "new york times" did fantastic... has been doing fantastic work from afghanistan. so i don't want to say they miss every story. but i'm giving you instances
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where even the great paper like the "new york times" and the "washington post" missed the main story. and what i'm saying is if the economic climate we're in and seem not to be getting out of, there's a cutback in newspaper reporting or more... just as important a diminishing number of titles, no single editor, even a man as gifted as i am, as it were... >> rose: (laughs) >>... can no which is the best story. so you want ben bradley making a different judgment than i made in london. ben bradley made the right judgment. >> rose: about watergate coverage. >> about watergate. >> rose: well he had two reporters who he gave... >> well, i have to give ben the credit there. because in london one of my reporters said "we should look into this watergate thing." but my editor in washington said "there's nothing to it." ben bradley called it right and he did a huge public service. >> rose: you're saying this is why we need municipals because if we had very good newspapers and very good newspaper
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reporting we would have early warning for this, whether it's katrina or economic crisis or weapons of mass destruction in iraq. >> it's not the only purpose. look, i love the web. as you know there are many personal reasons as well as professional reasons to embrace the web. >> rose: (laughs) you mean beastly like reasons? >> (laughs) exactly right. and i love newspapers. so two other reasons... >> rose: food on the table, isn't it. >> let me give you two reasons which i hope you'll agree with because you're a television star and you may find it difficult to accept this. you work in a medium which is sequential. people watching television have to wait for one segment to finish before the next segment can begin. radio is the samement it's a sequential medium. print is not. it's a spontaneous medium because you can have your eye on about five different stories at the same time and you can decide "i'm not going to read this story any more, i'm going to switch to this other story about tiger woods." or whatever it may be.
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whereas in broadcasting-- with due respect to you because you are the dimension which we can't do in newspapers-- in broadcasting you have to finish a segment before you get to the next. do you agree. >> rose: yes. >> so a newspaper is not only simultaneous but it's also serendipity. so you often find yourself reading in a newspaper something you didn't even know you were interested in. now, you might... i'm sure you've got patience for this exalted... >> rose: (laughter) , no i want you to express it. that's why you're here. we want to know what the great harry evens thinks. >> i'm always suspicious of writing off a whole species. i was suspicious when i was a newspaper reporter and people said "television's coming, you'll never find work again." i'm always suspicious of what i call the doom say merchants. now if you press know the wall-- which you're apt to do-- i would say that newspapers will be somewhat diminished by the web and you'll find it difficult... >> rose: well, that's clear,
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harry. >> i'm not making any great statements here. >> rose: (laughs) no. >> but the web i think... i think... daily beast, i love having the daily beast. >> rose: which one do you love the best? >> i love the daily beast. i embrace the daily beast. >> rose: (laughs) which was founded by my wife barry diller. now, the point about the web is this. newspaper newspaper... >> rose: evans founded the daily base? >> with barry diller. tina brown, she has... you know, she has one of these professional hangups, she wants to be known by her proper name. >> rose: well, she should! >> you can never account for women's liberation. here's the point. they had... they can do things which i can't do in a newspaper. for instance, if i missed a sunday morning talk show or god forbid i should miss a charlie rose segment. >> rose: i hope not. >> click, the daily beast brings it to me. it's there. and we can't do that in newspapers. nor can we do music... >> rose: but the serious
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question is what do they have to do because of this new ability to distribute news and information and entertainment? >> two things. one is move to print on demand. >> rose: on demand. >> hewlett-packard has a machine quite small which costs if nearly $3,000 which a reasonly capitalized grocery or store could have in there and you could buy the newspaper on demand. what what does that do? first of all, if you had fit your own home, of course, you could have it in your own home. what does it do? it saves 30% of the cost of a newspaper being distributed 30. %, that's a huge amount of money. secondly, that's the print on demand. >> rose: and fewer trees, too. >> and fewer trees. okay. there's one thing. the newspapers should investigate capitalizing print on demand to make it cheaper for everybody. that's one thing. and the second thing they have to do is think. get up in the morning and think "what am i going to add to the sum total of human knowledge
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which is already on display on the daily beast or whatever? or which is on television news in the morning? >> rose: it's the fear i live with every morning. >> well, you seem to survive it very well. so what am i going to do? what i'm going to do is give you value, give you thing which is you will not find elsewhere, which means investigative journalism, which means brilliant cultural writing. now tell me... tell me next, i can see it coming. well, the young people don't care, they prefer the internet. okay, that's fine. i don't care about that, as long as they get their information somewhere. what matters to me at the end of the day, although i'm in love with newspapers, what matters to me at the end of the day is not the delivery vehicle, whether it's the internet or print or magazines, but the message carried in the delivery vehicle. however it is. it's the journalism that i care about. because, you know, let me give you... i quote at the beginninging of my book james madison. knowledge must forever govern
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ignorance. and the people who mean to govern themselves must arm themselves with the power for which knowledge gives. james madison, 1822. i put that because when i read it originally a long time ago, it struck me like a bolt of lightning. knowledge is power. ignorance is impotence. so unless you give people knowledge whether through the web or through the newspaper or the magazine or through broadcasting. they will be impotent. and they will suffer. i mean, don't forget, my mind is clouded by what happened in the interwar years when the newspapers in... america didn't care much about what was happening in germany. they really didn't care. i mean, f.d.r. went fishing when hitler marched into the rhineland. british people should have cared and were misled by the newspapers into thinking that hitler was some kind of chashg characters that... >> rose: better than yet, you
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tell the story of dunkirk. >> right. >> rose: tell me that story as a young boy. >> well, my father was a steam train... locomotive driver and part of this book is the story of my trying to get an education. i had to leave school at 15, although thought i did absolutely brilliantly later on at university. >> rose: (laughs) >> here's the point. >> you were a it will bloomer, weren't you. >> somebody has to do this job, nobody else will. so my father who had a terrible, terrible habit, he could never stop talking to anybody he met. if you met him in the street, you wouldn't get away. he'd grip you by the lapels "tell me, mr. rose, what's your next show?" >> rose: like father, like son. >> he was a bit more persuasive than i am because i was very sly. >> rose: you've got the gene. >> so we would be driving munition trains through the dark of night with bombs. he was my hero, of course. and i was 12 and i wanted to build a sand castle because i
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had a theory if you build a sand castle high enough you could stop the irish sea from coming in. didn't prove to be feasible. however, on the second day when i wanted to do more he said "let's go for a walk along the beach." i didn't want to but he made me go. as we walked along the beach, beyond the pier there was some figures, lots of figures lying on the sand completely still. not playing games or anything. and when we got closer you could see they were unkempt, unshaven, bedraggled men. my father sat on his haunches-- he was 39 then-- and he gave these men a cigarette and talked to them. they were soldiers who just the day before had been evacuated from dunkirk and on the other beach... >> rose: the last englishmen leaving. >> the last british and french soldiers whatever. and when he got back to the boarding house he started telling people what he'd learned and to me it was an epiphany because in the boarding house, the newspaper headline was "bloody marvelous british
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victory." the men were demoralized, they had not the right qiplgt. so the newspapers were putting a gloss on a terrible defeat. i mean, churchill later said "wars are not won by evacuations." what stayed in my brain forever afterwards and led to a lot of grief for a lot of people in a sense was that i was never going to be satisfied with the official line now, there were good reasons for putting out that false story, to keep up british morale. so i began to think as a boy of 12, i was reading the daily express and i was reading beachcomber, you know, one of the greatest humorists of all time. he would run sries like "13 stories trapped in a chimney." second line. "the story to fit this headline has not yet arrived." >> rose: (laughs) >> that kind of thing convulsed me.
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that was the beginning of my paper chase. >> rose: and then you went to several newspapers, >> and then finally you got a chance to go the sunday times. >> right. >> rose: and a couple years later you were the editor! >> yes. >> rose: 19 what? >> 1967. >> rose: you became the editor of the sunday times. you had your hand on the newspaper. turn man in charge. tell me the top three stories you're most proud of. >> the very first story we did at the sund times was to investigate a man called kim philby. >>. >> rose: that's a great story. >> everybody now knows he was the leading soviet spy spying in britain, spying in america. top man. and, in fact, he was head of the anti-soviet section of british intelligence. but we didn't know that. all that we knew was that this man had some vague role in helping two other concealed communists to escape to moscow. and then he disappeared in beirut and everybody thought it
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was something to do with women. we began asking... i'll never forget going to see the minuter? the foreign office. "could ski a question, minister, about kim philby." "kim philby? why are you bothering with kim philby." so we made more inquiries and every time i made an inquiry or the reporters made an inquirer, we'd go "the sund times here, we'd like to ask you a question about kim fillby." click. so we found out a typeny bit... i today the minister i'd ask you again about kim philby. complete change of attitude. "you must stop, there's a monstrous danger here." it was that we would warn the americans about the lax of british intelligence. but the americans already knew. it was the greatest coverup, partly for class reasons, partly fors pri decor and they covered it up. it took us eight months, i had
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18 reporters at one stage on that story. >> rose: but what's interesting about this, kim philby later escaped to moscow and lived in moscow until he died. he had a nice place and people could see him at the opera or at concert halls and talk to him. >> he was scarlet pimpernel. he used to disappear straight away. >> rose: here's what's interesting. you define real news as news that somebody wants to suppress. >> correct. >> rose: and this was the case where they wanted to suppress it so that's real news and that's what journalism has a serious responsibility to do. >> take the second case. thalidomide. children were born without legs and without arms. why because their mothers were prescribed on the national health service a drug called thalidomide. we said... which had this effect. what do you do when there's a great airline disaster, when there's a great coal mine disaster. you have a public inquiry. the british government refused to have an inquiry.
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the drug company refused to pay compensation. we investigated and found that the drug company had been totally negligent. the british government and the drug company and every single newspaper, every single newspaper was saying "this is just a natural accident, nobody's responsible." well, we proved that they were. and as soon as we tried to prove it, the law intervened and i was summoned to the courts and what we were doing... we'd gone so far and then they stopped the rest of the story coming out. it took me eight years of fighting it in the courts to get the story finally released. that's the second one and the third one is northern ireland. this is a manifestation where i cricize myself. i have no interest in northern ireland. i regard it as ecuador, some distant place. mistake because the troubles in northern ireland which led to so much terrorism were going unreported because we were not doing our reporting job back to the square one, first point i made to you.
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so in 1968 i decided to put full time teams into northern ireland we exposed the ill treatment of prisoners detained, we showed also why the protestants were alarmed by the catholics. we attacked the i.r.a.. we showed that the americans had been deceived into supporting... giving dollars to blow up women and children when they were being misled. we did all this. so it was three stories. >> rose: so here's my question. >> (laughs) >> rose: was that the best time of your life? >> well, i'm so dedicated to being cheerful and optimistic the best time of my life is yet to come. >> rose: (laughs) assuming that's true, is that the second-best time of your life? >> well, it's true. i loved founding conde naste traveler magazine. >> rose: random house and colin powell and barack obama. >> and i tell you what, i really quite enjoyed getting married to tina brown when she was so much
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younger than me. >> rose: let's talk about that. how did that start? she was working for you? >> no, no. she went to oxford when she was 16 and a literary agent, a famous literary agent who died fairly recently sent me some clippings and said "you should read these by this woman, they're in the new statementsman and private eye and they're very funny." well, i didn't read them. another sign ofy neglect. i was too busy with philby. >> rose: the crosslynn diaries. >> i read them all morning. they were so good and i let this stuff linger in my briefcase so i finally called up... this was one of the most hilarious. i said "could i speak to tina brown." "speaking" she said. i said "would you come into the office and speak with mr. ian jack? we're very impressed with your articles. can you come in today?" "i'm sorry, i can't come in day. i'm giving dinner to my husband." i thought husband? how precocious can you be. i said "are you tina brown?" she said "yes."
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i said "are you tina brown just graduated from oxford?" she said "oh, no, that's my daughter." >> rose: (laughs) >> and then, of course, when she came in and she was commissioned and she came to america and she met s.j. pearlman and theodore white and wrote marvelous articles for "the sunday times." and then i fell in love with her... >> rose: you were the editor of "the sunday times." >> yes. and when i fell in love with her she resigned from the paper. she said "i'm cutting myself off from you and your newspaper" and she did. she went to work for the opposition. >> rose: so you went to new york in '84. >> well, i persuaded her by this time to marry me is this which she did ile i was doing some american lecturing having been sacked by mr. murdoch. >> rose: and you were a fellow at that time? >> i was a fellow in chicago and stanford university. so we were in barbados and she got a call to come to new york
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to see alexander lieberman, the great fox of the place, desiring czars. and she came back, she was very excited she said "i don't know what to do." i said "you must go." i went off to duke to teach literature... politics, rather. i said you can go to duke literature later. but i said awe thorn will still be there, "vanity fair" might not be. so it was a very exciting time for me was to see tina make a success at "vanity fair". and i was no help to her. i was in washington. she did it all by herself. >> rose: what is it that keeps the magic of a relationship? >> it's the same in most good marriages, it's a magic something. and if you try and bottle it, you can't. >> rose: and you also saw and were encouraged by a young barack obama. >> yeah. who was this kid? i mean, i was the president of the house and i had peter oswald
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reporting to me and also another editor and peter add had very bright editor called... young editor called henry ferris and henry ferris was rung up by an agent and said "simon and shoous have this manuscript by a very bright kid from harvard which is late and they don't want to the do it. would you like to do it?" so we read it and made a recommendation who osnos who came to me and said "we'd like $40,000 for this manuscript." i said "you have to show it to me. i'm not going to pay $40,000." so they showed it to me. i was overwhelmed by the quality of the writing. it was superb and very... the credit, really... i mean, once i really... it was easy... it didn't become an immediate best-seller. it did okay. the point is, when he made that fantastic speech, there's no red america, there's no blue america, there's just the united states of america. that very astute editor at random house said "hey, we have the paper back rights to that."
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so that's how it came to take off. so i was in at the birth, i was maybe the midwife, i'll put it this way. >> rose: "vanity fair" has a new book, speaking of your wife's former magazine which is called ""vanity fair"'s questionnaires." all the questions that i've always wanted to ask of someone so you're my guinea pig. so here are some of them. all of these. i assume the person you most admire is your wife. you would say that, probably? >> yes. yes, but my father second. and mother for that matter. my wife, yes. >> rose: wife and parents. >> yes. that's easy. if you ask me, people who i'm not attached to... >> rose: i'm asking that next. >> people like beethoven, john maynard. and politically i admire bill clinton. >> rose: because of his gifts? >> yes. i know he has... he squanders them sometimes but he is a
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fantastic... presidency. i mean, let's put monica in a cupboard by herself preferably, okay? (laughs) otherwise it was a pretty good presidency. >> rose: (laughs) so if you look at your life, what would you change? >> you know, i wouldn't change a thing. i've been enormously lucky. i wouldn't change anything. i have to avoid saying the usual things, you know? fewer cocktail parties, spend more time with my children. >> rose: i'd be on time. exactly. >> i might possibly... i'll tell you. i might possibly, possibly have agreed to go to the times. >> rose: you mean the daily "times". you should never have left the sunday times. >> i a lot of my colleagues think i never should have left "the sunday times." but i think after 14 years they deserved a new leader and i deserved the challenge of the
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"times" and it didn't work out. >> rose: what is the trait you most deplore in yourself? >> impatnce. >> rose: oh, they always say that! that's such a... that's such a lame, pathetic... >> okay, okay, say it. you're quite right. it's a to easy. >> rose: it's like... what do you most deplore in yourself this is easy. >> well, a lot of faults. i think a certain grandiosity. >> rose: really? >> uh-huh. maybe a tendency to show off. i mean, i could be harsher, i could think of other things. >> rose: here's the interesting thing. do you think part of that is what made you a good ed snore a great ed snore >> yeah. i mean... yes. i was seeking... you know, it was rather like shakespeare, seeking a reputation even in the cannon's mouth.
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bearded like a pod seeking a reputation in the cannon's mouth. that meant i was hazarding... sometimes i was reckless, i think. i think sometimes my adventurousness went to the point of being reckless. i was always conscious of the fact that i wasn't just representing me, i was carrying a whole newspaper, a whole tradition. especially when i was work n a small newspaper in the north of england where i was the temporary custodian of a tradition. i'm very well aware of the fact and, in fact, i might have got into difficulties if i hadn't restrained my temptation to grandiosity. i mean, it's manifest on the jacket of this book. who is this guy? >> rose: oh, look at that. that's sort of like, hello, here i am. >> it often say "i wish that young man could be with us today." >> rose: (laughs) well, he is. you mentioned heroes in real life. both your parents and your wife. favorite writers? >> john reed who wrote "ten days
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that shook the world" about the bols vic revolution. absolutely brilliant writing. >> rose: aut which warren beatty's movie was based on. >> marvelous movie. george orwell. george orwell represents to me the epitome of a very rare thing-- common sense. english common sense is a very sturdy and pointed thing. punctures all intellectual fashions, all the snobberies. george orwell, a master of the english language seeing the truth about the communists in spain in his book. talking about accents and... it's marvelous. and his book about the condition of the working class. george orwell is one of my... i've just been rereading middle march by evans, you know. and i'm reading... father and son. >> rose: when do you have time to read all that? >> i read... i've never stopped reading. never stopped reading.
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never stopped reading. i can't stop. i just adore it. "father and son" i read a second time a week two ago. it's fantastic. i read the war histories. i read every political history i can lay my hands on. when i wrote "the american century" i had to do that. >> se: you became an american citizen. >> i'm dual. i've got both. when i was invited to be a knight by the palace, you know... >> rose: the queen. >> the queen had to sanction it. she didn't personally single me out, i don't think. >> rose: the prime minister does that, doesn't he? >> the prime minister signs on off. >> rose: who was the prime minister? >> tony blair. >> rose: ihought. so an old pal. >> i'd been invited previously but i declined but i didn't think i should when an active editor of a daily paper. but the point is when i was invited to do that. i had to call up the foreign office and say "i am now an american citizen. they said "that's all right, you're always a british subject."
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>> rose: (laughs) >> and, actually, i like that dual nationality. i'm not dual, i'm an american. >> rose: do you ever go back? >> i do. >> rose: no, will you ever go back to live in britain. >> no. no, no, no, i would not. america gave me a chance. i love the openness here. it's more open than britain. and loving. i love my country, i love britain. my country, i say. but i love america. >> rose: so what do you worry about in america? >> oh... (laughs) i worry about... i care so much about america i worry a lot. i worry about the fabric of society break up. >> rose: the dumbing down, too, huh? >> dumbing down. i worry about the cultural values. about... i mean this show that you're on is one of the remnants of cultural values, which have to be preserved. the same with pbs, the same with a number of other things. the same with decent newspapers, the same with writing, creative... i mean, i worry
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about the dumbing down. i worry also in a different area about a deceleration of american power of innovation. i wrote a whole book on innovation and i see a decline or at least the shadow of a decline in the american powers of innovation. and i do not think the president government really understands how to get it going. >> rose: the obama administration? >> yes. even though i voted for obama. >> rose: i know. but you're also disappointed that he didn't see the jobs issue early you have? >> i'm very critical of that. >> rose: what about afghanistan? >> i think he made a very reasoned judgment on afghanistan. i add mish the presidency but that doesn't stop me saying that i think they made a number of serious errors. >> rose: this book is called "my paper chase: true stories of vanished times." (laughs) >> thank you very much, charlie. >> thank you, harry.
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>> rose: rebecca miller's new film is called plif. it's adapted from her own novel of the same name. robin wright plays pippa, a beautiful woman who finds herself at an emotional ross roads. here's a look at the trailer. >> i have known pippa lee for 25 years. she is a mystery, an enigma and i think i will never really know her. >> to be perfectly honest, i've had enough of being an enigma. i want to be known. like many people, i have lived more than one life. >> pippa... >> pippa... >> pippa... >> i'm pippa lee. >> so we're going to have to start at the beginning. my mother had a secret. her own little stash of sin. i never knew who she was going to be from one minute to the next. pild never go home for christmas
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or anything else. i was free. >> i think you're special. >> special how? >> you have such a sweetness about you. >> i've been going to doc's pottery class. >> oh, good. >> is there anything else you want from the market. >> pippa lee, right? >> i wish i could be peaceful and good like you. >> good? the i wonder if maybe i'm having a very quiet nervous breakdown. >> would you like to go for a drive? >> what happened to us? we used to laugh so much in >> can't laugh all the time. >> i think i'm going insane. >> i think you're very happy underneath all that anxiety. >> i think i just figure out what's so odd about you. you can't lie, can you? >> who is this guy? >> he's my friend.
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>> hi, ma. >> i don't know how the rest of my story will go. i don't know who i'll be in it. i'm just seeing what happens next. >> rose: joining me now is robin wright and writer and director rebecca miller. i'm pleased to have them both back at this table. welcome, greet see you. >> good to see you. >> tell us about this story. where does it come from? >> it was sparked by a woman i met up with after many years who had been a really wild girl. almost casual with her life, she was a little on the edge. i meet her 20 years later and she's turned into a smoothed out mother of several children, has a husband. >> rose: happens all the time. >> happens all the time. you would never guess, never
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guess what her past was. and i thght how many women are out there like that? and i started thinking about the nature of identity and we have cells inside of us like russian dolls all nestled inside of one another. and that's the beginning of pippa. >> rose: what we are drawn into is the adventures of pip a p.a. lee. we look back at her mother and see what made her what she is. >> yaef. it's kind of like a mystery of character. >> rose: butitis mother/daughter thing, too. >> very much so. it's the mother and daughter and how the last generation of mother and daughter affect this is generation of mother and daughter. it's about how we swing in round abouts and affect... the generations are talking to each other and affecting each other. >> rose: how did you see her? is she you? >> i think she's all of us. n one aspect. male/female. i don't think it's gender based necessarily. but when i read it for the first time... because i read the screenplay first.
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it was so darwinian to me because i was, like, wow, this is the evolution of a species. and we get to see literally this transmutation occur. >> rose: this survivor. >> yes. surviving with a facade and without that facade that she has to live in. she may have died spiritually and physically. >> rose: so what did you learn from this movie? >> wow, so many things because i've never really been offered a role this layered. >> rose: really. you're nope for choosing roles that are layered rather than roles that are necessarily star-making vehicles. >> yes. but there was something in this very unique in its tone that i had never really had the opportunity to play. you know, where ten things are resonating in this character.
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at the same time. and simultaneously i, robin, hopefully am, you know, eliminating myself and my antics and my hand gestures and things like that. so to be able to have those... have that combination, i've never been able to do that before. >> rose: when you're writing a novel, do off visualization of what pippa looks like? how she... >> yes, of course. >> rose: what her voice is? >> of course, yes. >> rose: how she smiles? how she runs? how she walks. >> yeah, yes, absolutely. yes. >> rose: so then when you cast the movie, are you trying to find that vision? >> well, i think you have to almost... you have to allow it to exist and then put it aside and say "now i'm going to find somebody who can embody pippa or almost channel pippa." because if you go around trying to find the person that you thought... you had in your head, you'll never find her. >> rose: and sometimes a great actress or great actor can make it even better than you even imagined. >> absolutely. that's the point is that you get surprised and it's fun. and robin really... you know, i
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really think encapsuled the soul of pippa. she found somehow the soul of this character. >> rose: how were you able to do that? >> we had a year, about a year to discuss, dissect. i dissected her brain as the writer. we had the novel... we, all of us, the whole cast. so just the minutiae was detail in that. and what i remember us talking about very consistently, it would always return to this topic which was, okay, i get her theoretically, i understand who this woman is, i understand having to make this choice for survival. and you become a function their that life, in that woman, in that person. and doesn't necessarily mean that woman is dead, she's just sort of hibernating. so i said given all that, how do you have that past? a very troubled, abusive, lack
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of self-worth. all of those negatives. how do you have that past and not be an older woman blaming everybody else around you for woe is me, righting? and the topic i was talking about is i want her to be non-judgmental. i still want everything that comes her way, though she's seen it eight million times, she's taken every pill, she's slept with every guy, she's seen it all. but even if it were to arrive on this table i wanted it to be fresh and spontaneous and hit her the way it would hit a six-year-old. innocent. >> rose: that's in your head when you're creating this character? >> yeah. i mean, that was sort of the only key i was trying to find and thank god we had a year because i needed rebecca to just keep talking to me about that. how do i become non-judgmental? because i'm pretty judgmental. (laughs) >> rose: (laughs) >> it was really difficult. >> well, that was the thing we talked about so much is she would say "i don't know anyone like that. who can i model it on?" we talked about that that really was the key to pippa and what makes her unusual and lovable
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and sort of special. and it's the attitude of the whole book and the film is that forgiving attitude. and it's what you found. it was very interesting. when i was working with robin, you know, she did this thing where when you'd say "roll camera" she would close her eyes and breathe in and she was really as if she was breathing in pippa. when she opened her eyes and she exhaled, pippa was there. and it was really the magic and alchemy of great acting, i think you know? >> rose: does it make a difference, two women working together here? >> yeah, it is, it's very different. >> how is it different? >> i don't know, you're my breed. i mean, it is. >> guys have that. i think a certain kind of film, guys probably work better with guys and in a situation like this with pippa with that kind of psychology i think that it helped. it helped. to find a short hand, to find an understanding and easy bridge. >> rose: because it's a different, i think, process,
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intimacy. how we process it versus... it just is. i think it's biological and spiritually just is different. men and women. >> rose: clearly is. >> (laughs) >> rose: except all of us don't understand all of you. >> you never will. >> rose: (laughs) back at ya, kid. (laughs) all right, roll tape. here's scene one. pippa, played by robin, and her husband played by alan arkin. >> how'd it go? >> it went okay. >> are you ving a hard time living here in wrinkle berry? >> it's strange having so much time on my hands. a place so easy to maintain. but there's going to be charity work i can find. >> you want to move back to the city. >> we just sold our apartment! >> well, we can get another one. >> are you serious? >> no. i'm just having a hard time thinking of this as the end of the line.
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>> i think it's sort of romantic. starting all over. just the two of us. it's a little stop. >> must you always look on the bright side? >> i didn't want to direct him because for the most part it was like watching a cat. you don't tell a cat how to be a cat. he knew how to be herb so well. he knew the guy. he knew the guy so profoundly. >> rose: what did he know? >> he knew where he came from. i remember when i first talked to him about doing the part. he had gone to city college, he knew his background. he knew every single thing. he said "i know guys exactly like this. and he create add kharker that is not alan arkin. >> rose: who is this guy? >> he's herb lee, publisher, compulsive serial seducer and saver of neurotic or messed up
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women. >> serial egotist. >> serial egotist. (laughter) >> rose: hard for you to deal with that? >> we were talking about it like listen to his responses every time she says things like "what do you think about he? " or "what about me?" anything what about me? it always refers back to him. well, you know, you stick it out with me. you're at least sticking it out with me. always in reference to him. who who she is to him. >> yet he's an adorabovable, i , character. >> rose: this is where pippa shares her thoughts on marriage with her friend sdra who's played by winona ryder. >> what is it? >> it's over between sam and me. >> oh. >> it's just all so completely, completely messed up. i don't know what to do. i... never going to have a normal life.
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>> you can be married to anybody if that's what you're worried about. >> anybody? >> marriage is an act of will. i mean, i adore her. but our marriage functions because we exist. if you leave love to hold everything together you can forget it. love comes and goes with the breeze minute by minute. >> rose: so marriage is about willing it to? >> according to rebecca miller. (laughter) >> it's always important to remember it's the character talking. you know, it's not lik suddenly i... >> rose: you put the words in her mouth, miller. >> that's how pippa feels. >> i think all americans have our... there's a spectrum and they're the ones that lie entirely on passion to survive from moment to moment. there are ones who become entirely will-based, shall we say. and you don't really want to be (laughs) and i think she's gone... >> rose: you want to find a
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happy medium between two? >> yeah. but if you don't realize there's an element of will to marriage than i don't think you can survive. i think there's an element of will to a marriage. because, you know, not every moment is euphoric. >> rose: so you've got to believe i'm in it and therefore it's important that i make this work. that's what will is about? >> f even though every moment doesn't thrill he? >> right, because you believe... it's like little bridges of faith to get you to the next moment. now there are moments when a marriage simply dried out and it's time to pack up. but i'm talking about... >> rose: and the hard thing is to know when that moment is. >> it is. and that's where... i don't think you always realize it. and i think you can see in the her face that, you know, she's making the best of it, as pippa does, as herb says, but there's a sort of sadness that she knows she's really lost something. and yet she's absolutely determined that this is the truth of life at this moment in
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her life. she's not learned otherwise. >> rose: did you once say that meeting and marrying daniel day-lewis convinced you you did not want to be an actor? >> well, that was the end of what had already been a pretty lackluster series of acting events for me. i mean, i always knew already when i started acting i knew i wanted to be a director. i mean sense, once i made my first film i kind of thought, well, now i'm a filmmaker. but once i me daniel and began to live with him i thought "this is absurd." >> rose: (laughs) because of how much he absorbs the role or because of how good she is in >> because he's so good and i would rather do things i'm good at. i think most people are like that. >> rose: i would, too. i keep looking for what what that might be. >> oh, i think you found it. >> oh, charlie. >> rose: no, no. so how is it for you, this film and the sense of finding this kind of role? >> i think back to the darwin
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reference. it's so inviting to be able to play that metamorphosis and play it silently. there was the beauty of this is this story what rebecca wrote is that i have the advantage to all these great actors playing out my past for me. so you get to see all the vignettes of the private lives that reside in her today as a 50-year-old woman. so there's a wealth of information that you're not seeing, me, the 50-year-old, express, convey, but you get to see in the flashbacks throughout the film. and i just... the color of the film, i love the way it's... it's melodic. buit's happy. there's so much intensity and it's not morose. you're not watching it feel like you want to slit your wrists.
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heavy stuff happens. it's so uplifting. we we talking yesterday it reminds me of the feeling of steven reich music. do you remember him from the '70 early '80s where it keeps escalating and escalating and you feel that in this movie even though this woman is on this trajectory down, in a sense, and then rebirth in the end. >> rose: jodie foster once said as you may or may not know that if you wanted to you could have been the best actress of your generation. suggesting that you didn't want to. is there something to that? on both sides. you knew how good you were and at the same time... >> i'd never thought i was good. still don't. >> rose: you don't? >> oh, my god. i'm so proud of this movie and it's maybe the first one in my whole career where i look and go yes! because i love the whole film, i love rebecca. i'm going to get all teary eyed.
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>> rose: yeah, what? (laughter) >> why am i crying? >> rose: jodi foster had a point didn't he? you're looking at an tack tress who has shown brilliance in specific roles what i think is interesting is that here's a moment where a woman has had perhaps not the most pragmatic career up to now. >> rose: pragmatic if you want simply to be a movie star. >> yeah, but she has a really significant body of work. and yet now is a moment that she's... you know, she feels she's beginning in a certain sense and it's exciting because it's a bit like pippa. pippa's an older person than you are. but still, the idea that you can sort of it's never too late to kind of redefine yourself and start again and there's a... i think that's a great thing. meaningful for a lot of people.
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>> it's true. it is a new beginning for just my age many my career. because i never was happy with my work ever. there was always something wrong. i always wished i could reshoot a scene or two in every film. i don't think that ever goes away because once you have perfection, it's probably time to pick outhe coffin. what's the point of waking fun you're not going to... but to have this forum, the whole pie was here, you know? me personally as an actress i think i finally just went get over being scared. it's so tired. it's really tired being fearful and afraid of failing and god if i made that choice that has carkner this take. just do it. just fail, then, because there might be something on the othe side of failure. so that coupled with getting this role, you know what i mean?
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i just felt like there was the epiphany and it was a gift that they coincided. >> rose: it's a very, very good performance. >> yes, it is. >> rose: the movie is called "the private lives of pippa lee." an interesting cast and a movie you ought to go see. thank you. >> thank you. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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